How to Measure Digital Marketing Success?

How to Measure Digital Marketing Success

Get the most from every digital marketing campaign you run!

Robert Grum


Last updated: November 28, 2017

Measuring makes marketing a science, according to Jayson DeMers. If you cannot measure it or if you don’t measure it, you never know what’s in it for your business and how it has helped you.

The ultimate goal of every marketing campaign is to increase ROI. But not every marketing campaign can be linked to quantitative figures. Brand awareness, for instance, will boost ROI indirectly but your brand awareness marketing campaign might not yield any decent digits instantaneously.

This is where it becomes a challenge.

If you have been struggling to measure digital marketing success all your life, this is the last guide you’ll ever read on this subject. By the time you’ll finish reading it, you’ll be able to get the most from every marketing campaign by measuring its effectiveness and value it added.

Why and how to track marketing effectiveness?

Measuring marketing effectiveness has several benefits. The most important among them is: it tells you what works and what doesn’t.

When you know what works for your business and target audience, you can scale it up.

According to Peter Drucker, if you cannot measure it, you cannot improve it.

James Harrington said the same thing differently:

“Measurement is the first step that leads to control and, eventually, to improvement.”

So if you aren’t measuring digital marketing success, you’ll never know what works and you won’t be able to improve what’s working and what’s not working.

Measuring marketing effectiveness isn’t the necessary part of any digital marketing campaign but it is a continuous process in itself.

According to Gordon Wyner:

“Marketing effectiveness is more than just ROI.”

He argues that marketing effectiveness isn’t all about ROI, instead, a marketing campaign helps a business achieve several objectives or contributes to them directly. Consider an increase in brand image. It isn’t a quantifiable metric and cannot be connected to finance but it does have a long-term impact on how customers perceive your brand.

It will eventually help your business in generating leads and sales.

This is what makes marketing effectiveness an ongoing process.

Marketing effectiveness, thus, cannot be achieved through a single standalone technique rather the success of a marketing campaign depends on the integration of multiple methodologies, channels, and campaigns.

You’ll continue to see results for an extended period of time for marketing campaigns that you’re running today.

Determine Marketing KPI-s to Monitor

According to Marketing Leadership Survey 2017, as much as 91% of marketers use engagement metrics to evaluate the effect of their marketing campaigns. While 82% use consumption metrics like downloads and page views.

KPI-s used by marketers to evaluate impact

Most of these metrics are tied to revenue or some form of ROI. There is still a major gap as to how marketers determine the effectiveness of their campaigns qualitatively.

The big question is: where to begin?

The first logical step is to determine marketing KPIs that you’ll use to assess marketing effectiveness. KPIs link to your marketing objectives.

For instance, if the objective of your marketing campaign is to increase organic traffic to your website by 300%, you’ll need to identify appropriate metrics that will help you measure the effectiveness of marketing campaign.

Similarly, if your primary objective is to increase sales, you can use appropriate metrics to analyze the increase in sales.

Before we move ahead and discuss individual metrics that can be used to measure marketing effectiveness, it is crucial to set up an analytics system to measure what you actually want to measure.

Google Analytics is the best free web analytics tool out there. Click here to create a Google Analytics account now, if you haven’t already. Install code on your website and you’re done.

Creating appropriate goals

Google Analytics allows you to create and track goals. This is where you use your KPIs. For instance, you can track new buyers who successfully downloaded your lead magnet.

You can create 4 types of goals in Google Analytics:

  1. Revenue
  2. Acquisition
  3. Inquiry
  4. Engagement

Follow these steps to create goals in GA so they can be tracked automatically.

Step #1.

Sign in to your Google Analytics account and click Admin.

Step one to create goals in Google Analytics

Step #2.

Click Goals in the view tab.

Select button - goals

Step #3.

Click New Goal.

Select +new goal

Step #4.

Select one goal type

Select the Template and follow the steps to create a goal.

You can create multiple goals based on your marketing goals, KPIs, and metrics you’re interested in.

You can track pretty much everything using these goals ranging from calls tracking to behavior analysis of website visitors and more.

These goals will help you measure digital marketing success that we are about to discuss in the next section.

Metrics to measure digital marketing success

There are several metrics to choose from when it comes to measuring digital marketing effectiveness. You have to carefully identify the right metrics based on marketing campaign objectives.

Here are a few leading digital marketing metrics:

  1. Revenue
  2. Conversion
  3. Website traffic
  4. Brand awareness
  5. Estimated ad recall lift

How to measure digital marketing success

#1. Revenue

Revenue is the most common metric that businesses use to measure the success of their digital marketing campaigns. Revenue makes it easier to clearly identify how much you made for every marketing campaign.

It is easy to understand and straightforward.

For instance, if you spent $100 on Facebook ads and it helped you generate sales worth $200, you know it worked for your business. You can increase the budget for next campaign, you can plan accordingly, and can scale up.

If you’re an agency, your customers will love revenue-based metrics because they will know what exactly they will get for every dollar they will spend on digital marketing.

Revenue goals can be set up and tracked via Google Analytics.

The three most common metrics to go for are:

  • Return On Investment (ROI)
  • Cost of customer acquisition
  • Customer lifetime value


Return on investment is defined as a measure of the gain or loss generated on an investment relative to the money invested. It is measured in percentage.

Roi calculation formula

Here is an online calculator for measuring ROI.

A 50% ROI means you’ll earn 50% of the amount spent on marketing as a return.

ROI is a perfect metric to see how much a marketing campaign is making. The challenge is to convert qualitative variables into quantitative and then allocating revenue to each.

For instance, if you’re running a PPC campaign to reach your entire target audience. Your objective is to show your message to at least 70% of your target audience in 30 days. You can allocate a revenue value to each new visitor (cost per acquisition) and then calculate ROI of your entire campaign.

Generally, ROI is used to measure digital marketing success of campaigns that involve sales, lead generation, and conversions.

Customer acquisition cost

It is defined as the cost of acquiring a new customer. If you spent $500 and acquired 250 new customers, your customer acquisition cost (CAC) is $2.

This free customer acquisition cost calculator is a life-saver.

Customer Acquisition Cost Calculator

It isn’t just related to a single marketing campaign instead it involves all the money that your business spends on acquiring one new customer. It includes several channels.

For instance, an average visitor might convert on the third interaction with your business. The cost to reach a customer via these three touch points will determine real CAC.

The CAC should be less than average customer lifetime value. If you spend $10 to acquire a new customer and he pays $20 to your business for his lifetime, you’re doing great.

Cost to aquire a customer should be less than average customer lifetime value

If, however, customer lifetime value is less than CAC, you’ll end up wasting money.

Cost to aquire a customer is higher than average customer lifetime value

You have to maintain a balance here. on customer acquisition cost by Kissmetrics will help you how to measure it.

Measuring CAC will help you improve ROI.

You can easily identify marketing campaigns that are successful by looking at its cost and number of new customers it brings in.

Customer lifetime value

It is a metric that shows you the worth of a customer. Customer lifetime value (CLV) is net profit attributed to the entire future relationship with a customer.

Customer lifetime value (CLV)

An average customer will have repeated transactions with your business. Calculating the average CLV for your business will help you make more sense of digital marketing campaigns that you run. Measuring and scaling get easier.

Here is a complete guide on how to calculate CLV.

#2. Conversions

Conversions is another digital marketing success metric that is fairly easy to measure. Conversions refer to encouraging people to take specific actions such as filling a form, buying a product, downloading a PDF, etc.

It is measured as a percentage and known as conversion rate.

Conversions is most known digital marketing success metric

Most of the actions that you want users to take on your website can be easily created via Google Analytics Goals (as discussed above). You can track actions and that’s what will help you measure the success of your digital marketing campaigns.

Linking conversion rate to CLV makes it even easier to see how good your campaigns are doing. When you know the lifetime worth of a new customer, conversion as a metric makes more sense.

Here are a few common actions that you can use to see how marketing campaigns are working.

  • Leads generated
  • Sales
  • Cost per lead


If the objective of your marketing campaign was to increase the number of leads, measuring the effectiveness of your campaign is dead simple.

Google Campaign URL Builder is the best free tool to instantly create UTM parameters. It will hardly take you 2 minutes to create a UTM code from scratch. Copy the code and initiate your campaign.


Most of the businesses use an increase in sales as marketing objective. In order to assess the success of all such marketing campaigns across all channels, you have to see how many sales (online and offline) were generated by your campaign.

Online sales are rather easier to track and attribute to different marketing campaigns. All you have to do is enable Ecommerce tracking in Google Analytics.

This guide by Shopify and this guide by Optimize Smart will help you track e-commerce sales in Google Analytics.

Tracking online sales isn’t a big deal. But not every individual will head to your online store after seeing your ad. Most of them will take a different route and might end up visiting your offline store.

The sales, in this case, must be attributed to the ad (or marketing campaign) that encouraged a visitor to visit your local store. This is where things get tough and measuring the success of your online ad campaigns get tough.

If you’re with AdWords, you can track offline conversions too.  It tracks conversions from clicks and conversions from calls. Read more on how to exactly do it here.

But what about offline conversions that were generated by other marketing channels such as Facebook, guest post, and email marketing?

Well, you can track offline conversions in Google Analytics as well.

So you can track all types of sales that are generated by digital marketing campaigns to see how effective your campaign was.

Cost per lead

Cost per lead varies. It depends on the marketing channel you’re using, industry, geographical location, and several other factors. Cost per lead has the potential to make or break marketing success.

For instance, if you’re generating a lot of leads from your marketing campaign but the average cost per lead is way too high, you’ll be losing money.

A clear understanding of how much you’re paying for a lead will help you improve ROI. It is a critical metric that you should never go without. 

Calculating cost per lead for any advertising campaign is easy.

How to calculate cost per lead

The Ad Calculator by HubSpot is the best calculator that will help you automatically calculate the cost per lead, the value of a lead, ROI, and several other metrics. If you’re running an ad campaign and want to see how successful it is, this calculator is a life-saver.

automatically calculate cost per lead, value of a lead, ROI, and several other metrics

#3. Website traffic

Generating website traffic is the top challenge that as much as 63% of marketers face. For all the marketing campaigns that you run to drive traffic to your website, you should use website traffic metric to measure where you’re heading.

Again, Google Analytics is your best friend when it comes to analyzing website traffic. You can track:

  • Referral traffic: Visitors that come from sources that are outside of its search engine.
  • Organic traffic: Visitors from search engines.
  • Paid traffic: It refers to all visitors that you drive to your website through PPC.
  • Social traffic: Visitors that reach your website through a social network like Facebook or Twitter.

Besides, there is a wealth of information that you get access to when inspecting traffic health via Google Analytics. Healthy traffic refers to low bounce rate, high average session duration, a high number of return visitors, and high number of average views per visitor. The health of the traffic can be measured by several variables from within your GA account. These include:

  • Average views per visitor
  • Sessions
  • Unique visitors
  • Bounce rate
  • Average session duration
  • Return visitors

You must hook website traffic metric with other metrics to fully understand the success of your campaigns. Traffic, itself, isn’t a strong predictor of digital marketing success.

For instance, if organic traffic increased by 400% in two months but conversions and sales decreased while bounce rate jumped to over 90%. Does this mean your campaign was successful?


Website traffic, therefore, should be translated into conversions or revenue or both so that you can measure the real success of digital marketing.

#4. Brand awareness and reputation

Not all the metrics are easy to measure. Brand awareness is one among them.

For all the digital marketing campaigns that are aimed to increase brand awareness, you will find it hard to measure the true effectiveness and success of the campaign.

You have to measure brand awareness indirectly by measuring its impact.

Here are a few ways to measure brand awareness.

  1. Look for direct traffic to your website.
  2. Analyze earned media.
  3. Increase in shares and social media activity.
  4. External links.
  5. Social engagement.
  6. Organic traffic for brand keywords.
  7. Brand mentions.

There are certain tools that can help you measure brand reputation such as Buzzlogic, TNS Cymfony, and Brands Eye.

#5. Estimated ad recall lift

It is defined as the estimated number of people who are likely to remember your ads (or message) within 2 days.

what is estimated ad recall lift metric

It is a fact that not all people will respond to your ads immediately. Some of them will react after a few hours or maybe after a day or two. It is a measure of brand awareness that works only for ad campaigns.

It is a metric that you should look for when running Facebook ads. You can measure estimated ad recall lift from Ads Manager.

It is, however, a really hard metric to measure for other ads and marketing messages.

How to maximize your future campaign effectiveness

You know a lot about metrics and I’m sure you’ll be in a better position to measure the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns. Here are a few practical tips and tricks to maximize and optimize all your future marketing campaigns.

  1. Use split testing. Test different marketing channels, approaches, techniques, and other variables to see what works best for you.
  2. Link objectives to digital marketing strategy and to individual campaigns and then identify suitable metrics to measure marketing performance and campaign success. Objectives will tell you what metrics you should use.
  3. Use right tools at the right time. It isn’t just about having access to analytics tools but how you use your tools make all the difference. For instance, Google Analytics is available to everyone. Not everyone uses it the way how the professionals use it.
  4. Focus on data analysis. You have no idea how much information you have access to that you don’t use at all.


Mastering how to measure digital marketing success will pay you in the long-run. As John Sachs said:

“Good marketers see consumers as complete human beings with all the dimensions real people have.”

At the end of the day, digital marketing metrics should take into account real human emotions, feelings, and psychological factors too. That’s what you need to succeed.